Funny Ought Not Be Bad Business

What is the most important part of the Sunday paper?

As a kid, I would have told you the funnies. As an adult (yeah, yeah), one might point to the arts and entertainment section or the world news on the front page, the business and help wanted ads, or the sports pages. Many people look for the coupons. As an op-ed writer, I’d like you to turn to the editorial pages first. As an advertiser, I’ll tell you that the first smidgen of ink the readers see is the most important part of the Sunday paper. Or the last.

I like two kinds of newspapers. A true, independent, local paper that covers every local occurrence and activity of impact as well as some that are simply interesting is a godsend. If you have one, subscribe to it. Cherish it. A big, regional paper is also crucial because it will have the farthest reaching, in depth coverage of most major stories. (Other than the specialized Wall Street Journal, the lightweight USA Today, and the tabloids, we have no national newspaper.)

All newspapers have another feature critical to a consumer society: advertising.

I grew up with the Philadelphia Inquirer. I now subscribe to the Miami Herald. The Sunday Herald offers most of what I want: world and South Florida news, business news, Entertainment, jobs, real estate, sports, travel, world class columnists and, of course, decent funnies. Oh, sure, I can do without Cathy and I wouldn’t mind if it carried B.C., but it’s not a bad comics section. As an aside, I sure do miss Al Capp, Milt Caniff, and Ham Fisher.

There is a point in here; this is Marketing 101.

Once upon a time the color comics were the easiest section to find in the overflowing Sunday newspaper. Now the color comics are just one more insert that wraps ads. I like the sales fliers the Miami Herald includes with every Sunday paper, but I don’t like the extra fold worth of ads the Herald puts on the funnies. It makes them harder to find and much harder to read.

I tear off that fold.

Right away.

I don’t even look to see if it is interesting.

If I dislike those ads so much that I’m writing about them here, I gotta think that’s pretty bad marketing. The primo law of marketing may not be, “First, do no harm” but methinks it maybe ought to be.